Lack of enthusiasm among electorate result of odd-year elections, not top-of-the-ticket races, Rep. Overly says

10/22/2015 07:10 PM

GEORGETOWN — House Majority Caucus Chairwoman Sannie Overly, like many keeping tabs on this year’s election cycle, expects a low turnout when voters hit the polls to decide their next slate of constitutional officers on Nov. 3.

But she’s not blaming the anticipated light turnout on the top-of-the-ticket race or her running mate’s lack of retail politicking compared to past gubernatorial candidates.

Overly, the Democratic lieutenant governor candidate on a ticket with Attorney General Jack Conway, met with about 10 supporters at Fava’s Restaurant in downtown Georgetown. Part of her remarks there centered on efforts to turnout Democratic voters in Scott County.

Overly attributed the expected light turnout to historic trends in constitutional elections and not the gubernatorial race.

“You have a smaller group of folks that show up for these constitutional offices than you typically do in an even-year election,” she said.

When asked about any impact Conway’s general scarcity on the campaign trail may have on the number of voters who hit the polls, Overly said the electorate is getting more information from campaign advertisements on television these days.

“We are certainly seeing in this campaign no shortage of TV commercials, so that’s just how you communicate with voters more in modern elections,” she said.

While Overly said she believed a lighter turnout could be advantageous to her ticket, Bevin campaign spokeswoman Jessica Ditto countered that the GOP slate believes no one benefits from low voter participation.

“Both Matt and Jenean are military veterans and want to see everyone exercise their civic duty,” Ditto said in a statement. “Kentucky is unique to have statewide elections in an off-year and that certainly plays a part in turnout. Everywhere we go we are reminding people to vote on Nov 3rd.”

Overly also offered a contrast between her campaign’s agenda and that of Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin’s.

She spoke to Scott County supporters primarily on the differences between the slates’ education plans, saying she and Conway wanted to “make sure that we’re protecting the investments in public education in our state” and expand early childhood education opportunities.

Bevin and his running mate, Jenean Hampton, by contrast, “are on the record of telling people here in Kentucky that not only would they not seek to expand early learning programs,” but also that “parents are perfectly well equipped to teach their own 3- and 4-year-olds and prepare them for kindergarten and first grade,” Overly said, referencing her Monday debate with Hampton broadcast on KET.

Conway’s campaign has seized on early childhood education as a key delineation between his candidacy and Bevin’s after the GOP nominee said during a Republican primary debate on KET that the federal Head Start program for low-income 3- and 4-year-old children “serves no purpose” once participants reach the third grade.

“I’ve done a lot of forums with educators, college professors about what it means to have graduate educators ready for early learning opportunities, and so people are getting excited around that issue,” she said.

Ditto said in response that Bevin “is a strong supporter of early childhood education” who wants to “invest in early childhood education in the smartest way possible to produce long-term benefits for our early learners.”

Overly also touched on her interest in transportation-related issues in a potential Conway-Overly administration.

The Paris Democrat has often touted those credentials when asked about her role as a potential lieutenant governor, but she could not say whether she would take on the position of Transportation Cabinet secretary if her ticket wins election.

“Do I have some experiences that I have had that I think can help us? Sure,” Overly said. “Are they around our Kentucky’s infrastructure system? Yes. I have a background in civil engineering, I worked in the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and in the House I chaired the Budget Subcommittee on Transportation, so I hope to be involved with the Transportation Cabinet. At what level, I can’t tell you.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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